The Gibson Les Paul Standard is one of the most classic sounding guitars you will find. When I first started listening to the Allman Brothers so long ago, I dreamed of actually owning one of these guitars someday.
In fact, I did end up owning one at some point in time. It was a 1960 Les Paul Classic Reissue, but for some reason I never really was able to get the sound I wanted out of it either from lack of knowledge or not trying different things with the amp and pedals. This guitar is much different than a Fender and getting a good tone from one can differ drastically from a Strat.
Now I’ve finally been able to get the Traditional Plus model, which is a dream come true. At this point I’ve been able to purchase quite a few guitars over the years and really have started to understand how each guitar can be used to get the tone out of it.
This guitar is really a great sounding one. I will say that my search for a Les Paul has taken a while. There are so many models these days and they all look, feel, and sound different. Here’s a little rundown of how I came to the decision to purchase this guitar.
First, I knew I wanted some kind of Les Paul Standard. This left me with still a few different options. Today there is the Traditional Pro, Traditional Plus, Les Paul Standard, and the new Les Paul Standard 2012 which is not chambered but weight relieved. Over the last few months, I have been trying out numerous Les Pauls and have found that they all sound a little different and the finish can be drastically different from each guitar. One Iced Tea finish can look completely different than another, making it hard to understand what exactly the real color is of each burst.
Anyway, after playing numerous models I was really digging a 2012 Les Paul Standard I was trying out at Guitar Center. It had a really nice sound and a great neck. I didn’t feel completely in love with it though, so I decided not to go ahead and purchase it. Plus, the 2012 Standards are pretty expensive. Not that the other ones aren’t but these are around $400 more expensive.
That same day I went to a different Guitar Center here in Atlanta and tried out The Les Paul Standard (pre 2012 chambered), The Traditional Pro, and the Traditional Plus. Using a Deluxe Reverb and a Maxon OD 808 I demoed each guitar one after another. The first one I tried was the Traditional Plus in an Iced Tea burst with a 50’s neck. This guitar had a lot of fatness and that Warren Haynes, Duane Allman sound was there!
To me, this was the first one I tried that totally had it in my mind. The finish was really cool as well. If you’re going to spend this much on a guitar, you better like everything about it. The Standard pre 2012 chambered was ok but sounded kinda thin to me compared to the Traditional Plus. It had a 60’s neck and was a little easier to play, but the tone was not there like the Traditional Plus. Next, I tried out the Traditional Pro and it was pretty good sounding as well, but it did not have the same fatness and sustain as the Traditional Plus. It also had a 60’s neck which is kinda easier to play, but the 50’s fatter neck feels more comfortable to me.
After playing each guitar back and forth numerous times, I was completely convinced that the Traditional Plus was a superior guitar in every way to the other models, and this particular one was the guitar I had been searching for. I didn’t really plan on buying a guitar that day, but sometimes when you find the guitar that really speaks to you, you must get it.
So after bringing this guitar home, I did realize that it needed a little setup to get it playing like I wanted it to. The first thing I did was put some DR Pure Blues .010s on it. Next, I raised the action some and turned the truss rod a bit for some relief. I believe I have it where I want it at this point, so all is good.
The first time I fired it up with the Vibrolux, I noticed that the clean sound was amazing. Just really precise and clear. Next, I tried some overdrive pedals but could not get the sound I was looking for. The OCD was missing midrange, and things became too rock sounding, while the Ibanez TS9 made it sound real boxy and midrangy.
So now I was unable to get the tone that was in my head, so I realized that the pedal I was using when I tried out the guitar was probably the one I needed. This was the Maxon OD 808. I ended up getting that same exact pedal which was the last one they had and it was even missing the box. I didn’t care because I knew THAT pedal had the sound I was looking for.
So the final setup ended up being this.
Gibson Les Paul Traditional Plus
57 Classic and a Classic Plus Pickups
1966 Fender Vibrolux
Maxon OD 808 – Link to Amazon – Maxon OD808 Overdrive
Mr B’s Bottleneck Slide
Watch a Video of Me Playing this Guitar
Let me know what you think of the sound in the comments below. I’ll also try to answer any questions you have as well.